CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland Cavaliers unveiled a refreshed set of logos this week, the latest in a line of graphics for the team in its 50-plus years of existence.
1970-71 to 1982-83
In April 1970, ‘Cavaliers’ was chosen as the team name. A third of the 6,000 fans submitting names via mail thing ‘Riders.’ The swashbuckler wears a cape, boots and what appears to be a Medieval Celtic hat as he pokes his sword out of the logo’s center between the ‘C’ and the ‘a’ of ‘Cavaliers.’ The larger, arched ‘Cavaliers’ is across the top with the smaller ‘Cleveland’ underneath. The emphasis is clearly the team and not the city. Two months after the Cavs’ inaugural game, National Geographic featured the city on its December 1970 cover because of the Cuyahoga River’s infamous reputation, so it’s easy to understand why the city is downplayed a bit more here. Now, pride has replaced shame, and even nicknames (“The Land”) have made their way onto city jerseys in the league.
Famous players of the era: Bingo Smith, Austin Carr, Jim Chones, Campy Russell.
Best season in this era: 1975-76 – first place, 49-33, lost in Eastern Conference finals.
1983-84 to 1993-94
The most typographical heavy design, the logo is the word itself. The new logo unveiled this week harkens to an aspect of this one: The basketball atop the net-shaped ‘V’ here is the simplistic grandfather of the current design. With no lines on the ball, the red dot atop the ‘V’ resembles a clown’s nose more than it does a basketball.
Famous players of the era: World B. Free, Brad Daugherty, Craig Ehlo, Ron Harper, Mark Price.
Best season in this era: 1988-89 – second place, 57-25, lost in Eastern Conference first round; 1991-92 – second place, 57-25, lost in Eastern Conference finals.
1994-95 to 2002-03
This is actually one of the most drastic logo changes for the team. It shifts its color scheme, going from orange and bright hues to blue and black. Lettering for ‘Cavs’ is in blue with black inline while the ball swooshes through a white net. It yields a bit of energy.
Famous players of the era: Terrell Brandon, Danny Ferry, Andre Miller.
Best season in this era: 1995-96 – third place, 47-35, lost in Eastern Conference first round; 1997-98 – fifth place, 47-35, lost in Eastern Conference first round.
2003-04 to 2009-10
The fourth logo in the team’s iteration has a sword slicing from the right to left. The ‘C’ changes yet again, with a jagged, jutting edge. The color scheme is expanded to white, red, gold and blue.
Famous players of the era: Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, LeBron James, Anderson Varejao.
Best season in this era: 2008-09 – first place, 66-16, lost in Eastern Conference finals; 2009-10 – first place, 61-21, lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
2010-11 to 2016-17
This is a very nominal change from the previous logo. The sword is going the same way but has a sharper, more golden hue. The basketball is a bit darker. But the overall look remains, as do the same four primary colors: White, red, gold and blue. This logo will forever be associated with the team’s sole championship in 2016.
Famous players of the era: Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova, Tristan Thompson.
Best season in this era: 2015-16 – first place, 57-25, won NBA championship.
2017-18 to 2022
The shield logo is introduced, with has the sword slicing upward through the ‘C’ on a black background. Black replaces blue among the quartet of colors.
Famous players of the era: Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr.
Best season in this era: 2017-18 – first place, 50-32, lost in the NBA finals.
The newly unveiled family of five logos – a shield, a C and a basketball with a V. Artist Daniel Arsham has pared the designs and colors to form a cleaner, less busy look.
Famous players of the era: Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro, Collin Sexton.
Artist Daniel Arsham embraces ‘magical’ vision, team history for Cavaliers’ refreshed look
Cleveland Cavaliers unveil identity rebrand with modernized logo collection
I am on cleveland.com‘s life and culture team and cover food, beer, wine and sports-related topics. If you want to see my stories, here’s a directory on cleveland.com. Bill Wills of WTAM-1100 and I talk food and drink usually at 8:20 am Thursday morning. Twitter: @mbona30.
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